South Africa will reopen its borders to all African countries from Thursday while barring tourists from around 50 nations with high coronavirus infection rates, the government said on Wednesday.
The continent’s most industrialised economy shuttered its borders at the start of a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to limit the spread of the virus.
Restrictions on movement and business have been gradually eased since June, but borders stayed sealed to avoid importing the virus from abroad.
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said the country would “gradually” open borders, but that restrictions were in place for around 50 countries categorised as high risk include Britain, the US, India, Russia and France.
“Only business travellers with scarce and critical skills, diplomats, investors and professional sports people coming for events from the high-risk countries will be permitted into the country,” she said.
Meanwhile, “travellers from all African countries are allowed,” Pandor added.
The country will reopen some land borders and its three main airports in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
All travellers will be required to present a negative coronavirus test taken less than 72 hours prior to departure.
They will be screened upon arrival and asked to install a coronavirus tracing app on their mobile phone.
The travel restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks.
South Africa has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with 672,572 infections and 16,667 deaths recorded to date — around half the total number of cases detected on the continent.
The countries with restrictions have a greater number of infections and deaths compared with South Africa, Pandor said.